My heart was racing. I began chocking and then I couldn’t breath. I felt light headed as if I was about to pass out. Terrified, I struggled trying to figure out what has happening to me. This lasted 5 to 10 minutes and then the feeling passed. It was my first anxiety attack.
What caused my anxiety attack?
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
- No balance
In January of 2016, I moved to a small island in the West Indies to start medical school where I didn’t know a soul. I quickly learned my way around and made new friends. As I settled into caribbean life, student life began to take off like a straight up rollercoaster ride. One minute you’re feeling the high and the next minute you’re questioning the meaning of life.
While most of us medical students feel a sense of pride and gratitude for our opportunities, we neglect to talk about the dark side of a medical student’s lifestyle. No one knows the stress that we’re under and the constant hit our psyche takes day after day. We’re constantly worrying if we’re studying correctly, have we learned enough, and will we remember it all. Check out how CNN describes depression in the medical field.
For me, I knew what I was getting into. I was willing to let my personal life take a hit to follow my passion. But you need people. You can’t do this thing alone. Medical students struggle with reaching out because we’re so use to doing everything ourselves. Often times, we feel outsiders won’t understand the struggle we go through. Trust me, the struggle is real!
It’s not all doom and gloom. Number one, I freaking live in paradise and the beach is always a short distance away. Number two, it’s always 80 degrees. Yes, 80 degrees!! Also, I’ve met some really cool people and some lifelong friends. Lastly, we know what we’re learning will change and hopefully save lives and that’s an awesome feeling. Not to mention, I love learning about how amazing our bodies are.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing except how I handle stress. Oh, and maybe going to the beach a little more often. (adding to my to-do list)
What have I learned?
I can’t neglect myself. I need to eat well, exercise everyday, and I need sleep. All this sounds simple right? Well, let me tell you. Once you sit through your first week of class, you quickly realize your behind and you begin to sacrifice the basics to keep up. So, I’m taking back to the basics and incorporating food that will help keep my stress and anxiety levels down.
4 Anti-Anxiety Foods
- Spinach is high in folic acid and helps with depression. It’s also rich in magnesium which helps to control the stress hormone cortisol.
- Wild Salmon is rich in B12 and B6 and deficiencies are linked to anxiety, panic attacks and depression. B vitamins are important for healthy nerves and brain cells. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids which is an anti-inflammatory. Omega-3 helps controls the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
- Guavas are very high in vitamin C which also helps control the stress hormone cortisol.
- Seeds & Nuts. Pumpkin seeds are high in tryptophan which helps with the release of serotonin, the feel good hormone.
Now that I’m starting a new semester, I’m going to make it a point to make sure I don’t neglect myself especially my diet. I’ll also be incorporating more time in my schedule for exercise. The combination between the two will definitely help my anxiety.
What strategies do you use to combat anxiety? Let me know.
Make practical changes for healthier lifestyle.